The mission of the Wadleigh Memorial Library is to provide informational, educational and recreational resources and services to the Milford Community.
The first incarnation of the Wadleigh Memorial Library was in 1868, when $500 in tax funds were appropriated for a permanent town library to be known as the Milford Free Library. The Library was located in the Town Hall, presently known as Eagle Hall, and the postmaster, Mr. John Crosby, also served as librarian. When the “new” Town Hall was completed in 1870, town offices and the Library were relocated from Eagle Hall. The Library occupied a few locations within the current Town Hall, last of which was in the space at the rear of the Town Hall building (demarcated on the exterior of the building in brick and causing much confusion to this day).
In 1932, Fannie Boynton Wadleigh created a trust fund of $100,000 to be used for library purposes in the memory of her husband, William Y. Wadleigh, who had passed away in 1921. While William had lived for only a brief period in Milford, Fannie had grown up here. The money was to be used to build a new library. Because of the Depression and the depreciation of the funds, planning for the new building did not begin until 1943. The site for the new library came from the Lull estate, a piece of land on Nashua Street, across from the town hall, left to the town in 1910 by Mrs. Mary A. Lull, widow of Civil War colonel Oliver W. Lull. Actual work on the new library began in 1949, and the Wadleigh Memorial Library opened its doors on July 19, 1950.
The fountain on the west side of the library was built through the efforts of Mrs. Lull to honor the soldiers of Milford who had died in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War in 1848, and the Civil War. The memorial fountain was dedicated in 1894 at the town’s centenary celebration.
The 1950’s two-story (plus basement) colonial-style brick building was expanded to the left side and rear with an addition in 1986. The 1986 addition was designed to serve a population of 12,000 and last 20 years. When the library opened in 1950 there were approximately 18,000 volumes. Today the library houses about 70,000 books, nearly 200 magazine and newspaper subscriptions, over 3,000 films, documentaries, and television series, and over 2,000 music CDs.